Boris Johnson has prompted widespread ridicule after claiming he has never told a lie during his political career in a televised interview.
Appearing on ITV, the prime minister was asked whether he could look the presenter “in the eye” and say he had never lied in his career – spanning back to 2001 when he was first elected as an MP.
“Absolutely not, absolutely not,” Mr Johnson replied. “I have never tried to deceive the public and I’ve always tried to be absolutely frank.”
Pressed again, he continued: “I may have got things wrong, I may have been mistaken, but I’ve never tried to deceive people about the way I see things.”
Mr Johnson later added: “I am not going to pretend that in my political career I have not said or done things that have caused offence. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve certainly made mistakes.”
Seizing on his remarks, the Liberal Democrat leader made a reference to the decision of the former Tory leader Michael Howard to sack Mr Johnson from his frontbench in 2004 after lying over an extramarital affair.
Mr Johnson had dismissed the allegations about his private life at the time as “an inverted pyramid of piffle”, before further evidence proving the claims emerged.
Ridiculing the prime minister, she said: “He was sacked twice for lying. So when he says he has never lied, he’s literally lying.”
Mr Johnson’s decision to duck a leaders’ debate on climate change on Thursday evening was also criticised by Labour’s national campaign coordinator, Andrew Gwynee, who said: “Boris Johnson has been hiding from scrutiny to avoid being held to account for a decade of Conservative austerity and his litany of lies, failure and bigotry.”
In a series of questions put to Mr Johnson, Labour also demanded whether he had “only lied to the Queen once” over his decision to unlawfully prorogue parliament earlier this year.
The Tory leader was also heavily criticised during the EU referendum campaign and faced accusations of deceiving the public over Vote Leave’s infamous claim to “take back control of roughly £350 million per week” after Brexit.
The UK Statistics Authority said it was a “clear misuse of official statistics”, and the fact-checking charity, Full Fact, added: “We have never paid the EU £350m a week and we have never owed the EU £350m a week. After we leave the EU, that means we cannot take back control of £350m a week.”